Practicing Mindfulness in a Digital World
Written by Tieara Caron
In today’s digital world we’re always connected and stimulated. We’re stuck in a dopamine loop of short term gratification, and let’s face it - being plugged feels good. Our smartphones act as extensions of ourselves, and offer a technological world of information instantly accessible at our fingertips. But at what costs?
Most of us have experienced some level of technostress, the rising psychological disorder of stress caused by overuse of technology. Research also suggests that digital stress is brought on by social media, which is no surprise - It’s hard to feel good about ourselves when we’re comparing ourselves to someone else’s sanitized, flexin’ for the gram life.
Recently, I learned about Fogg’s behavior model, in which elements must occur at the same time for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt. By Fogg’s model, when a behavior does not occur, at least one of these three elements is missing. In order to change our behavior, in this case how we interact with technology, we need to look closely at what is motivating and prompting our technological behaviors, as well as how easy it is for those behaviors to occur.
Here are some practical ways you can intercept your behaviors and practice mindfulness in a digital world.
Turn your phone on do not disturb.
Turning your phone on DND will silence all incoming notifications. Notifications are behavior prompts they inspire you to take action - in this case, the action prompt is to check your phone. By silencing all your phone’s notifications, this mode helps to feel unplugged without officially unplugging. When not being prompted to pick up your phone based on notifications, you can make a more conscious choice to either use your phone or be present in the moment.
Turn off push notifications.
If you’re not able to fully silence your phone, you can start with turning off your push notifications. This will limit the number of notifications coming from your apps that prompt unnecessary time on your phone.
Take screen breaks.
Being glued to a screen all day can take a toll on your health, and it can be hard to remember to take a break. Challenge yourself to get up and walk away from your computer every hour, for 5-15 minutes. Set an hourly alarm or calendar event if that helps you get away from your screen. Stop eating lunch at your computer and instead use that time to focus on being present.
Use technology to your benefit with apps that encourage mindful habits.
Luckily there are some digital tools out there that can contribute to your well-being instead of adding to your technostress. These are some of our favorites:
Aloe Bud: This app is your personal self-care companion that gives you gentle reminders and activities. Aloe bud develops self-care routines designed just for you, like drinking more water or remembering to take deep breaths when feeling anxious.
Shine: Shine is great for meditation and affirmations. It’s super helpful to have an app that gives you regular positive affirmations, like a personal life coach in your pocket.
Insight timer: This app provides guided meditations. You can choose which meditation areas you want to focus on, like starting your day on the right foot, sleeping better, or feeling more centered.
Forest: Forest challenges you to stay focused, remain present, and ignore your phone through visual motivation. When the app is running, the longer you don’t leave the app to do other things on your phone, the more your virtual forest will grow. If you open instagram or facebook to procrastinate, your forest will die.
As hard-working creatives, it's easy to lose sight of caring for ourselves because we’re working so hard on meeting deadlines, finishing projects or closing deals. Remember to put yourself first. Recommit yourself to practicing self-care and try one of these tips. Give yourself time to unwind and unplug. Self-care is self-preservation, and when you take care of yourself, you’re able to take care of business.